The basic idea of the WWG is this: all the different benefits – Unemployment, Sickness, Invalids, the DPB ect – are scrapped and combined into a Jobseekers Benefit, so named because all the recipients of this single benefit will be active Jobseekers, and the role of the welfare system will be to get them back into work as quickly as possible.
- The WWG does accept that a small number of beneficiaries, namely the terminally ill and those caring for disabled children, may need to exist on a benefit for some time, and not be actively seeking work.
- The Jobseekers benefit will be set at the rate of the unemployment benefit – because that’s what all these people are: unemployed. They’ll be paid supplementary payments based on circumstance, ie Jobseekers with children will receive additional funding to care for their children.
- Female Jobseekers are strongly encouraged not to have additional children. They will have contraception options made available to them and be expected to return to work four months after the birth of an additional child. If Jobseekers continue to have children they should be subject to financial penalties. The WWG suggests those additional children not receive financial support.
- The WWG suggests that after a six month period Jobseekers who continue to receive a benefit be subject to sanctions and a ‘Work for Welfare’ program, ie a compulsory job scheme.
- Jobseekers be subject to drug and alcohol testing, and be obligated to pass these tests.
- Failure of Jobseekers to meet the obligations of the system will be punished with incremental decreases in payment, resulting in minimum two week stand-down periods in which they do not receive a benefit.
- Oh, here’s something to get Family First riled up – the WWG seems to support the anti-smacking legislation and proposes the introduction of a new criminal offence called ‘failing to protect a child’ (refusing to call the police on your neighbours).
- Jobseeking should be facilitated through contractors that are financially incentivised to find ‘positive outcomes’.
I haven’t read through each section of the report – but what it doesn’t seem to contain is a recognition that the number of beneficiaries is tied to wider economic factors like, oh, say, the unemployment rate or the performance of the economy – the problem is all about benefit dependency and the inadequacy of the current welfare system. The WWG does include this graph:
You could write a whole book on economics, social welfare and recent New Zealand history based on this graph, and it would be hard not to arrive at the opposite conclusions to those ones that the WWG reached.